Monday, May 29, 2006

The Al Gore-John Kerry Summer Replacement Hour

I see from commendatory pieces in New York magazine and elsewhere that Al Gore -- or, rather, his image -- has been rehabilitated. Formerly known as a comically wooden, pedantic centrist from a politically aristocratic family, the "new" Al Gore is a passionate environmentalist and dissident critic of the Bush Administration who has learned from his mistakes and seen the light in his exile from Washington. A guy who, having been unleashed from the constrictions of his courtier-pollster-image consultants, now calls things as he sees them, who is being viewed by an increasing number of Democratic politicos as a viable presidential candidate in 2008.

The Nation ran a similar editorial about John Kerry in its May 29 issue. Entitled "The New Kerry," it depicted a newly emboldened senator, "freed from the grip of consultants, the spotlight of the national media and the Republican attack dogs," speaking out against the Iraq war to "wildly enthusiastic crowds."

"Call it the Al Gore Effect," says the writer, Ari Berman.

Yes, the Al Gore Effect. You know, drowsiness, forgetfulness, dissociation from reality, a nauseating feeling of deja vu.

Who are they kidding? The very fact that Gore and Kerry only now -- when nothing's at stake and relatively few are watching -- are articulating a more progressive, openly anti-war stance demonstrates their cowardice under pressure.

Gore, America's own Marshal Petain, who quietly stepped aside as the Fascists rolled their tanks into Florida -- an act of cowardice with devastating results for America and the world that indirectly is responsible for the deaths of hundreds of thousands. When Earth was truly in the balance, he skulked out of town.

As for Kerry, the Nation writer says, "After years of vacillation, he has found his voice on Iraq."

Ah, just in time ... to stop the invasion, the illegal war, the concentration camps, the My Lai-like massacres.

Might I suggest that his sudden conversion to the antiwar ranks, like that of Gore, has nothing to do with inner transformation and everything to do with the shifting public stance toward the war? Ah, but their defenders would call that analysis cynical. That's rich, ain't it?

But the Democratic voters aren't buying Kerry's latest reinvention. Polls show him behind Hillary, 57 percent to 30. And in an online straw poll on the progressive site, he garnered a whopping three percent.

Let's face it: Gore and Kerry are summer replacements, not talented enough for prime time stardom. Unable both to articulate and defend a coherent set of values. But appealing to the political and media elite for the very reason that they don't threaten the established capitalist consumer war machine. They're safe, political pablum. The Tony Orlando and Dawn of politics.

I combined my reflections on Gore with my memories of TV past, and this came out:


OPEN ON: Variety show set.


Live from a rapidly warming Earth, it’s the Al Gore Musical-Comedy-Environmental Summer Replacement Hour. With special guests Bono, Cameron Diaz, and the House Ways and Means Committee, and special musical guest Bono again. And now here’s your host, the guy who used to be the next president of the United States, Al Gore!

Enter GORE. Applause.


Thank you. My friends know me as Al, but you can call me Your Adequacy.

SFX: Canned laughter.


As you know, we’re a summer replacement show. So to all those of you tuning in and expecting to see “Deal or No Deal,” well, it’s No Deal.

SFX: Canned laughter.


You know, at first I was insulted when they told us we were only going to be a summer replacement. But then I remembered that with global warming, summer might last for the next five thousand years. We’re going to lead off with sketch that I think is a real gas. (beat) Not a greenhouse gas, though.

SFX: Canned laughter.

(to the tech crew, offscreen)

O.K., fellas. Let ‘er rip.

CUT TO: PowerPoint screen.


An Irishman, an Italian, and a Jew All Walk Into a Bar

An Analysis of the Diagnosis and Treatment of Alcoholism


An Irishman, an Italian, and a Jew all walk into a bar.


They each order a beer.


Prevalance of Alcoholism Among Ethnic Groups in the U.S., 2000

Native American: 65.3 %
Irish American 54.8 %
Scotch American 43.6 %
Scandinavian American 39.1 %
African American 32.9%
Hispanic American 23.7%
Italian American 11.0 %
Jewish American 2.3%


A few minutes later, a fly flies into the bar.


First it lands in the Italian guy’s beer.


Incidence of Vermin Infestations in Taverns, Restaurants, and Nightclubs, U.S., 2000 (per 100 venues)

Cockroaches – 78.4
Rats – 22.5
Mice – 10.8
Flies – 8.1
Termites – 5.6
Fire Ants – 1.25
Beer-Drinking Flies – 0.4


“Oh, I can't drink this! It has a fly in it!” the Italian guy says.


Next, the fly lands in the Jewish guy’s beer.
“Oh, I can't drink this! It has a fly in it!” the Jewish guy says.


Finally, the fly lands in the Irish guy’s beer.
Without hesitation, the Irish guy chugs the entire beer, fly and all.


Yearly Costs of Alcoholism in U.S. Dollars

$300 Billion Overall
$71 Billion Direct Costs
22,000 Deaths
2,000,000 Injuries
4,600,000 Damaged Vehicles
20-25 % of Healthcare Budget
90% of Liver Disease
72 % of Pancreatitis
41% of Seizure Disorders
13% of Breast Cancers


The Italian guy and the Jewish guy are shocked.
“You know there was a fly in your beer, don’t you?” the Italian guy asks.


“Of course I knew,” the Irish guy exclaims.


DSM-IV Criteria for Alcohol Abuse

1. Failure to Fulfill Major Role Obligations
2. Use in Hazardous Situations
3. Legal Problems
4. Use Despite Problems
5. Use Despite Spotting a Fly in One’s Beer


“I wasn’t about to let that son of a bitch steal my beer!”


What the Italian guy and Jewish guy should have done:

Asked the Irish guy about…

Problems in:



Well, according to the latest Insta-Laugh polls, thirty-eight percent of registered Democrats thought the sketch was funny, thirty-nine percent of Republicans, and twenty-three percent of Independents. To all you Independents out there, here’s why you should think that the sketch was funny. You see, unlike the Italian and the Jew, the Irishman, propelled by a genetically driven, compulsive consumption of alcohol characteristic of his race, disregards the unhygienic, fly-infested beer, despite his confreres' warnings. In a way, the Irishman is like those people who underestimate the threat of global warming. Did you know that one of the many consequences of global warming is a rise in infectious diseases, as more disease-bearing insects and birds migrate to places that had hitherto been insufficiently warm but, due to rising temperatures, are now sufficiently warm? Well, no, I didn’t think you did. You’re too busy downloading iTunes from the Internet that I created. (looks offstage) We have to go to a break, so we'll be right back after this word from ExxonMobil...

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